How to Use a Golf Rangefinder-Play Best
When most people think of golf equipment, they picture things like clubs, balls, and golf bags. However, one device that can also be extremely helpful while you’re out on the links is a rangefinder. Measuring distances is a critical part of the game as it allows you to know which club to use and how to hit the ball. While this device is pretty straightforward, there are some tips and tricks that you should know to maximize your potential with it. In this article, we will show you how to use your rangefinder as well as how to make sure that you get the most out of it.
What is a Golf Rangefinder?
There are two kinds of rangefinders that you can buy; the first uses a laser rangefinder to measure distances, and the second uses GPS navigation to show you where you are on the course. While GPS rangefinders are useful, most golfers don’t use them because they have to be synced with a map of the course to work, and they are not always 100% accurate. So, for our purposes, we will focus on laser guided rangefinders.
These devices are compact and easily fit in the palm of your hand. They somewhat resemble a camcorder in both shape and size, and some of them have straps to help you stabilize your shot. The way that they work is that you scope out your target through the viewfinder and then activate the laser. Once it hits the target, it will relay the distance back to you in either yards or meters, depending on the model.
Some rangefinders come with additional features that we will get into later, but most models are a simple “point and shoot” device for measuring distance.
What You’ll Need
To get the most out of your rangefinder, you will need the unit and a fully charged battery. If you want to make sure that you get the most stable shot, you can also bring a tripod, but many models do not have an attachment setting for use with a tripod. Overall, your biggest challenge will be to ensure that your line of sight is stable as we tend to gently shake while holding the rangefinder in our hands. After some practice, however, you should be able to find your target without any problems.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the further out you go the more affected the laser will be with any hand movements. After about five hundred yards or so the accuracy will go down slightly as it becomes harder to lock onto a target.
How to Use a Rangefinder
Before you try to use it on the course, it’s always best to familiarize yourself with the device and make sure that you are comfortable using it. Test the scope to see how clear the image is as well as the magnification setting. Most rangefinders will have a set magnification level, but higher end models might allow you to adjust the zoom as needed.
One thing that you should pay attention to is the part where your eye touches the unit. Some models require you to keep an inch or so distance between the two, while others allow you to press up against it. For stability, it’s better to have your eye one the relief so that you can use it to hold your hand steady as you find your target.
Searching For a Target
Before you look through the rangefinder, you should first find your target with the naked eye if possible. This way you can get a good idea of where you need to look as well as where your target is in relation to everything else. Another good idea is to find landmarks so that you can gauge where your next spot is compared to them.
Some rangefinders have a scan mode which allows you to measure distance continuously, which is helpful if you are trying to see how far your target is from a landmark without having to scan them separately.
Keeping it Steady
As we mentioned, a tripod is the best way to ensure a steady shot, but if you cannot use one, then we recommend you use both hands to keep your line of sight as level as possible. Again, with practice, you should be able to spot your target without any significant problems, but it will take some time to get used to.
Finding the Flag
For the most part, your top priority is finding the flag. Fortunately, many rangefinders come with a sensor that vibrates when you’ve found the flag or will highlight it on the screen. Best of all, these models will make sure to take into account if the flag is obstructed or in front of other targets such as trees. Lower end rangefinders usually target the furthest object, meaning that if the flag is in front of a tree, it will measure the distance to the tree. If that happens, you might have to find a different angle to ensure that you’re getting the right data.
A good way to practice using your device is to test it on flags that are close by. Try it with flags that are about fifty or a hundred yards away so that you know what the device will do when it finds them, and you can get better about pinpointing them. Overall, the best way to master your rangefinder is to practice as much as possible. Start with short distances and then work your way up.
Yards vs. Meters
Some models will give you the option to choose your distance measurement, so pick the one that you’re most familiar with. Usually, US players will pick yards because they are used on the football field, but as long as you know how to adjust your shot based on the distance provided that is all that matters. If you are more comfortable with meters, then feel free to use that.
One thing to keep in mind as well is that most rangefinders will give measurements in either one yard or half yard increments. The more precise you can get the better as you get closer to the hole, but if it doesn’t make much difference to you then don’t opt for a higher end model just because it provides half-yard readings.
As we mentioned, some models come with extra benefits to make it even easier to measure your next shot and improve your game. Here are some common additions that you can expect to see with rangefinders.
As you already know, many golf courses have hills and valleys that make the golfing experience more challenging. However, for most rangefinders, they don’t take into account the slope of the ground, meaning that you don’t get a true distance to your next target. Fortunately, some models take these variations into account so that you can get a more precise reading when lining up your shot. These rangefinders will measure the incline or decline of the ground and compensate to provide you with more accurate results.
It should also be noted that slope adjustment is not tournament legal, so if you engage in competition, it won’t be a good idea to get comfortable with this feature as you cannot use it in those instances.
Every rangefinder has some kind of targeting system, but higher end models will give you the option to switch from black to red or provide more detail so that you can pinpoint your target more easily. Some golfers prefer to have high contrast reticles as it makes the whole experience much simpler, and we are inclined to agree. Why set yourself up for a challenge if you don’t have to? If possible, opt for a model that gives you the freedom to choose a color and contrast level.
With some rangefinders, you get a rechargeable battery that can be reused over and over again. With lower end models, however, you have to use alkaline batteries that have to be changed every time they run out. Both options are viable, so it will be up to you to decide which is more convenient. Rechargeable batteries will save you money in the long run, but if it dies while you’re out on the course, you will be out of luck unless you brought a spare. Alkaline batteries are easy to find, and you can even buy rechargeable versions of those, so it can be a similar experience either way.
Not every rangefinder comes with its own sack, but it’s usually better if it does. This way you can keep the screen from getting scuffed or scratched, and you will always have a means to carry it while out on the course. Some models even come with lens cleaners to help ensure that you get the clearest image possible. Overall, as long as you take care of your rangefinder you won’t have to clean it very often, but it’s nice to have something for that purpose.
While most of us don’t want to golf in the rain, sometimes Mother Nature gets the best of us. If you want to make sure that your device doesn’t get damaged in foul weather, you will want something that is rainproof. Most rangefinders are water resistant, but that doesn’t mean it will hold up in wet conditions.
When it comes to using your rangefinder, be sure to practice as much as necessary to master the controls and ensure your stability. Remember that most models are accurate up to about four or five hundred yards, so if you wind up getting one that can scan much more than that you might find it to be worthless after a certain distance. Also, be sure to use slope adjustment only if you are not a tournament player. It’s never ideal to get used to something that you can’t use in competition, so if you are a tourney golfer, don’t bother with slope adjustment.